After the first game of the Sask. Lacrosse Association Pee Wee provincial championships in Prince Albert on Friday night, it would have been easy for the Moose Jaw Mustangs to expect nothing but hard-fought and close games.
Instead, their two-goal win over the Saskatoon Crush somehow turned back the clock to the turn of the century when the Moose Jaw Mustangs were the class of Saskatchewan lacrosse — where every game was a blowout win and provincial titles came as easy as could be.
The Mustangs won three of their next four games by more than 12 goals, including a 14-3 win over the Saskatoon Crush in the championship final on Sunday afternoon. The exact same Crush team they had battled to a 7-5 win over two nights earlier.
“They wanted to make it happen and they did and I’m proud of them,” said Mustangs coach Steve Michaluk. “They’re a great group of kids to work with. To have a season like we did, where we lost one game all year and that was in our tournament, that’s pretty incredible and we’re happy with how things turned out. That’s the kind of thing that isn’t going to happen very often and it’s something they’ll always remember.”
Looking at the round robin pools prior to the event, Michaluk expected the Crush to offer the stiffest competition given their line-up and the handful of players they had added. That’s exactly what happened Friday. Not so much Sunday.
“We opened it up,” Michaluk said. “The kids bought into the system and they can pass and catch and use each other and they played smart on defence. Being willing to move the ball and share it with a teammate to find the open man and do things like give-and-go with a guy … they were all doing that and they were lights out, they did a great job. They were very unselfish and their execution was there all weekend.”
Mustangs 7 Saskatoon 4
Eric Woodley scored with 1:09 remaining in the game and Rowan Calvert added an insurance marker with 48 seconds left to secure the win after a back-and-forth third period that saw the Crush score twice just over a minute apart with five minutes remaining to tie the game.
Liam Fitzpatrick had a hat trick and Calvert finished with a pair of goals. Carter Michaluk had their other goal.
Mustangs 14 Prince Albert 2
It was pure carnage from that point on as the Mustangs dominated the rest of the tournament, beginning with their second round robin game: Moose Jaw took a 7-0 lead out of the first period and led 9-1 through two.
Lukas Salkin and Dalton Cushway each had hat tricks; Calvert, Fitzpatrick and Williams scored two apiece. Josh Johnson and Colton Ebbett had single markers.
The win also marked the top defensive showing of the weekend for the team, something Michaluk felt was especially important even with the high offensive output.
“Everyone played good defence this weekend and our goalies (Walker Williams and Luke Andrews) were great to be able to backstop us when we missed an assignment or gave up a breakaway,” Michaluk said. “It was awesome.”
Mustangs 16 Yorkton 4
Woodley scored four goals as the Mustangs led 7-0 after the first and 11-1 through two.
Fitzpatrick and Michaluk each had hat tricks, Calvert scored twice; Ebbett, Williams, Johnson and Logan Hawley had one apiece.
Mustangs 10 South East 3
Moose Jaw didn’t let up in the semifinals, even if things were still relatively close with 4-1 and 6-2 period leads.
Fitzpatrick had three goals and two assists, Michaluk added a hat trick and Calvert scored two. Ebbett and Johnson picked up single markers. Woodley had four assists.
Mustangs 14 Saskatoon 3
Things looked similar to the first meeting between the two teams in the gold medal game as the Mustangs nursed a 3-0 lead. Six goals in the second period changed things dramatically, though, and Moose Jaw rode their offensive wave to the gold medal.
Fitzpatrick scored three times and picked up three assists, Calvert had three goals and two assists, Johnson had a hat trick. Michaluk had a pair of goals; Woodley, Ebbett and Salkin had one each.